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Published June 1986 | Published
Journal Article Open

Factors Contributing to the Catastrophe in Mexico City During the Earthquake of September 19, 1985


The extensive damage to high‐rise buildings in Mexico City during the September 19, 1985 earthquake is primarily due to the intensity of the ground shaking exceeding what was previously considered credible for the city by Mexican engineers. There were two major factors contributing to the catastrophe, resonance in the sediments of an ancient lake that once existed in the Valley of Mexico, and the long duration of shaking compared with other coastal earthquakes in the last 50 years. Both of these factors would be operative again if the Guerrero seismic gap ruptured in a single earthquake.

Additional Information

© 1986. American Geophysical Union. Received 28 February 1986; accepted 22 April 1986. We wish to acknowledge the cooperation we received from the personnel at the Institute of Engineering, UNAM; particularly Professor Jorge Prince, who supplied the strong-motion data, and Professor Roberto Meli, who supplied the results of the damage survey.

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August 19, 2023
October 18, 2023